Appeals Court Finds Jury Bias

Posted: December 08, 1989

A black, drug-peddling sex offender who claimed that blacks were systematically excluded from his jury will get a court hearing on his racial discrimination complaint.

Harvey Weaver, 25, who was convicted by an all-white jury last year of

sexually molesting a 19-year-old woman, produced evidence of "purposeful discrimination" in selecting a jury, said the state Superior Court this week.

Superior Court Judge James E. Rowely wrote that the prosecutor "is obliged to provide reasons of sufficient detail to permit meaningful review by the trial court and, if necessary, the appellate court."

The appeals court vacated Weaver's 14- to 24-year jail sentence and ordered Common Pleas Judge Stanley Kubacki to conduct a hearing to force the prosecutor to explain why he failed to accept any black people as jurors.

Kubacki had earlier rejected Weaver's claim of jury-selection discrimination.

Weaver was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and conspiracy.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax said Weaver and Eric Alston, 23, were inside their Cobbs Creek Parkway apartment when they attacked two women on Oct. 24, 1987. Alston is serving 22 1/2 to 45 years in jail for the crime.

Sax has denied any racial bias in jury selection. He argued that he was not required to say why he challenged prospective jurors because the trial judge didn't accuse him of discrimination.

The prosecutor also pointed out that Weaver's attorney exhausted his juror challenges to exclude whites, then asked for a mistrial on the basis "of discriminatory selection."

In addition, Sax said the case was not racial because both the victim and Weaver were black.

The Superior Court, however, said the trial judge was wrong not to find evidence of discrimination in jury selection.

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